Hundreds Gather in NY to Remember Slain Ugandan Activist David Kato

 

The following comes from HRC Greater New York Steering Committee Diversity Co-Chair Pete Webb:

I represented the Human Rights Campaign yesterday at the New York City Memorial Service to honor the Ugandan LGBT Activist, David Kato.  Kato was the advocacy officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).  Only a few short months after his picture was published in a national magazine outing LGBT Ugandans under the headline “hang them,” someone broke into Kato’s house on January 26, 2011 and beat him to death with a hammer.  Right-wing U.S. extremists have fueld a climate of hatred in Uganda.  Click here to learn more and send a message to the most outspoken extremists whose words may have led to Kato’s death.  

A moving memorial service, alive with soul and spirit, was held for Kato in the historic setting of Abyssinian Baptist Church.  Over 225 people attended to mourn David’s murder and show their solidarity with LGBT Ugandans.  Various dignitaries participated in the service including a UN Senior Adviser to the High Commissioner, New York City Councilmember, and clergy from various faith communities. Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of SMUG, also shared his testimony and friendship with David Kato.

The Rev. Joseph Tolton, who was the lead organizer of the vigil, talked about racism, homophobia, hatred and bigotry within society and the church. He passionately extolled everyone to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your god.” He challenged the church to welcome all of god’s children including the LGBT community. The Rev. Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church continued this theme declaring that we must open our hearts and minds to erase hate and affirm human dignity.

It is my hope and prayer that David Kato’s legacy will birth a movement of understanding; empowerment and liberation.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

The Economist’s Obituary of David Kato

The Britsh news magazine, The Economist, devotes an obituary page each week to a significant person. This week, David Kato was featured:

In Mr Kato’s mind there were only two ways to deal with being gay in Uganda. The first was to hide, to seek the dark. This was how he had first encountered the gay scene in Kampala in the late 1990s, after hearing rumours of a night party in some gardens outside the city and deciding he had to gatecrash. The party hosts, suspicious of his eagerness, gave him the wrong address; they did not want him to find this secret, illegal gathering among the trees. When he gave interviews to Western media it was often in dark alleys or deserted bars, face shadowy and close to the camera, or on some red-dirt road out of town, while he kept nervously walking.

The second way of being gay, however, was to be out and proud. This was what he preferred, despite the risks. In 1998, just back from a few years of teaching in South Africa—where he had seen apartheid fall, and the old anti-sodomy laws with it, and had decided at last to admit his homosexuality—he held a televised press conference to start the push for gay rights in his own country. The police beat him up afterwards, the first of several beatings (he would show the scars on his head, where bottles had been broken on him), and arrested him, the first of three arrests. Not deterred, in 2004 he co-founded Sexual Minorities Uganda to campaign against the anti-homosexuality bill and general prejudice. He was the group’s litigation officer, partly because he knew his way round the mazes of the law, but mostly because he was loud, impatient, demanding, angry (too much so, when the beer got to him), and didn’t care that his face was now “Gay Uganda” for the tabloids. . . .

Police assumed that when Mr Kato was bludgeoned to death with a hammer, on the afternoon of January 26th, he was just another victim in a series [of attacks in a rough part of town]. Gay groups blamed the tabloids for incitement. Neighbours, hanging about, noticed with surprise that his blood on the walls looked much the same as theirs.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Zach Wahls; study shows health risks of anti-gay bullying; Kato remembered

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. If you haven’t seen it already, take three minutes out of your snow day and watch 19-year-old Zach Wahls, the son of same-sex parents, address the Iowa House of Representatives during a public hearing on a proposal to ban gay marriage. The clip has almost 1 million views on YouTube, and some are comparing it to Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns’ “It Gets Better” speech. Also, watch Wahls and his family’s interview with MSNBC below.

2. Anti-gay bullying is bad for your health. Not only does it lead to increased suicide rates, but the hormonal imbalance it creates can also increase memory loss, cardiovascular problems and bone density depletion, according to a new study.

3. Murdered Ugandan gay activist David Kato was remembered Thursday in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, a group from Cambridge University has launched a fundrasing campaign in Kato’s name. Half of the proceeds will go to Kato’s organization, Sexual Minorities Uganda, while the other half will go to support LGBT refugees from Africa. For more info, go here.

—  John Wright

In case you missed it: Vanguard’s ‘Missionaries of Hate’ episode about gays in Uganda

As the gay population of Uganda (and Africa in general) is suffering from a surge in hate crimes and discrimination, this episode of Vanguard highlighted the issue last summer. With smart and delicate reporting by Mariana Van Zeller, the episode gives major insight to the plight of the gay community in Uganda and how American evangelicals played a hand in the wave of homophobia. She posted this blog last week about the recent killing of gay rights advocate David Kato

The episode is shocking and powerful. The show airs  Mondays at 8 p.m. on CurrentTV.

—  Rich Lopez

Don’t let story of David Kato’s murder die

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

A few months ago when I wrote about the draconian anti-homosexual laws being passed in Uganda, I had an ominous feeling that it would be the beginning of a very real nightmare for LGBT people in that African country.

Unfortunately, that is coming to pass.

LGBT activist David Kato was murdered, not by a sniper from a distance, but by an individual who brutally beat him to death with a hammer.

A Ugandan publication had published his photo and that of other LGBT activists on the front page; above the picture were the words “Hang Them.”

Already, the authorities in Uganda are trying to cloud the issue with talk of “thieves and gangs.” But to call his death anything but the hate crime it was is ludicrous.

Beating someone to death with a hammer is up close and personal and comes from a hate-filled rage.

Much of that rage has been fueled by clergy in Uganda. One man in particular — Martin Ssempa, a man with the dubious title of “reverend.”

If you don’t think you know him, you most likely do. Ssempa was the speaker in the YouTube video that went viral last year. In that clip he is describing how gay men “eat the pooh-pooh.”

Though to us it might have seemed comical and worthy of ridicule, in Uganda, Ssempa’s words are taken seriously.

Ssempa is a well-known preacher in Uganda, and he has a lot of well-funded U.S. ties. You see, anti-gay evangelists who can’t find an audience for their hate here in this country have fanned out to proselytize in countries where their message might have more traction.

Rick Warren, the author of “A Purpose Driven Life,” was one of Ssempa’s supporters. Though he now distances himself from the Uganda situation, funds from Warren’s church helped fuel this mess. U.S. evangelicals and the ex-gay movement are big players in Ssempa’s push.

Ssempa has wrapped his hate in the banner of AIDS activism. But don’t be fooled. His brand of activism led him to burn cases of condoms “in Jesus’ name” and to sponsor gatherings with U.S. speakers like Scott Lively, who blames homosexuals for the Nazi Holocaust.

Other U.S. interlopers include Don Schmierer, who is on the board of Exodus International and who spoke at a conference in Kampala in March, 2009, where he endorsed the anti-homosexual laws that caused such an international stir.

Now as David Kato is being laid to rest the controversy continues.

A pastor speaking at his funeral lashed out at homosexuality, prompting a strong reaction from Kato’s friends. Scuffles broke out before the event was over.

Things turned so ugly that villagers refused to bury his body, and it was up to his friends to carry the coffin to the grave and complete the burial themselves.
And all this just adds fuel to the fires in Uganda.

It is unfortunate that those fires have been stoked by citizens of the U.S. who traveled to Uganda to inflame passions there. Worse, this crime is going to fall from the front pages as events in Egypt take center stage in news from Africa. Besides, the story is somewhat old news, and falls well outside the attention span of U.S. news audiences.

That’s why it is up to the LGBT media to keep this urgent human rights story alive.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Man confesses to murder of gay activist in Uganda; equality under attack in Utah

David Kato

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A man has confessed to the murder of Ugandan gay-rights activist David Kato, who was beaten to death with a hammer in his home last week. If you’ll remember, Kato had been outed by an anti-gay newspaper that called for him to be killed, and had received death threats since then. But the government-sanctioned cover-up is well under way: An anonymous police source is telling the media that the suspect killed Kato because he failed to pay him for sex.

2. Speaking of Uganda, the U.S.-based group that’s been linked to “kill gays” legislation in that country, the Fellowship, was also the sponsor of this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., which was attended by President Barack Obama, among others. The LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL protested outside the event.

3. And sticking with this morning’s theme of religious-based bigotry and oppressive regimes, a Utah GOP lawmaker has filed legislation that LGBT advocates say would gut local nondiscrimination ordinances and nullify directives between same-sex partners.

—  John Wright

UPDATE on Brenda Namigadde: Deportation delayed by temporary injunction

As I noted here earlier, Ugandan lesbian Brenda Namigadde — who fled to the U.K. in 2002 to escape persecution in her home country where homosexuality is outlawed with those who break that law subject to up to 14 years in prison — was scheduled to be sent back to Uganda at 9 p.m. tonight (London time). But word now is that a High Court judge has granted a temporary injunction preventing her deportation, according to reports by BBC.

Namigadde’s earlier pleas for asylum in the U.K. had been denied after a judge said there was no evidence she is a lesbian.

Efforts to halt Namigadde’s deportation took on added urgency on Wednesdays after news broke of the murder of Uganda’s most prominent gay rights activist, David Kato.

—  admin

In wake of one activist’s murder, another faces deportation back to homophobic Uganda

As mourners in Uganda on Friday laid to rest gay activist David Kato, bludgeoned to death on Wednesday in his home in Kampala, in Britian several members of Parliament were calling on their government to halt the imminent deportation of Brenda Namigadde, a 29-year-old lesbian activist who was supposed to be sent back to Uganda tonight.

Same-gender sexual contact is illegal in Uganda, with those convicted facing sentences of up to 14 years in prison. Some government officials have in the last year been pushing to make the laws regarding homosexuality in Uganda even harsher, including death sentences in some cases.

According to reports by the BBC, Namigadde, who fled Uganda for the United Kingdom in 2002, said she was beaten and victimized in her home country because of her sexual orientation. However, when she applied for asylum, British immigration officials denied her application, saying that “an immigration judge found on the evidence before him that Ms. Namigadde was not homosexual.”

Ugandan MP David Bahati, the main force behind the death-to-gays legislation there, has said that Namigadde must either “repent or reform” or she will be arrested on her return, according to reports in The Guardian.

Although Namigadde’s first appeal asking for an injunction to stop her deportation was denied, her lawyers continue to work to have the deportation stopped.

Among the MPs calling on immigration officials to halt Namigadde’s deportation is Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith where Namigadde lived while in England. Slaughter said, “Whatever the circumstances surrounding Ms Namigadde’s presence in Britain, it is clear that she cannot be deported to Uganda at present. Both the public mood and the official stance towards homosexuals in Uganda are lethal at the moment — we should not be contemplating sending my constituents back to a society where she will be in grave danger of her life.”

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Pentagon to unveil DADT plan; Ugandan gay activist David Kato laid to rest

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Pentagon will roll out its plan today for the training and rules changes needed to implement a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” The training is expected to take three months, meaning full implementation of repeal could come sometime this summer. No word on whether the Pentagon plan includes ending attempts to collect money from people like Army Lt. Dan Choi, who was discharged under DADT and recently received a bill saying he owed $2,500 for unfinished service. Needless to say, Choi told the Pentagon to suck it.

2. Murdered gay rights activist David Kato was laid to rest in Uganda. Sadly, a pastor preaching at the service at one point told homosexuals to repent, before being cut off by mourners and replaced. And unbelievably, Ugandan police say they don’t believe Kato’s status as a gay rights activist had anything to do with his murder. Police say they believe theft was the motive despite witness accounts that someone came into Kato’s house and beat him to death with a hammer before leaving. Above is a report from CNN on Kato’s murder.

3. The Washington Post claims the Republican Party is moving to the left on gay rights. While we don’t dispute this assertion entirely, we’d like to point out that two of their five examples involve Texas GOP lawmakers pandering for votes and money, then promptly remaining as anti-gay ever by voting against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

—  John Wright

President mourns Kato murder: ‘LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights’

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

_________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release January 27, 2011

Statement by the President on the Killing of David Kato

I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.

At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.

LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.

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Obituary: Uganda gay activist David Kato [BBC]

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*SEE ALSO: Secretary Clinton’s statement:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release January 27, 2011

2011/116

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON

Murder of Ugandan LGBT Activist David Kato

We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato, who was brutally murdered in his home near Kampala yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues. We urge Ugandan authorities to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.

David Kato tirelessly devoted himself to improving the lives of others. As an advocate for the group Sexual Minorities Uganda, he worked to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. His efforts resulted in groundbreaking recognition for Uganda’s LGBT community, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission’s October 2010 statement on the unconstitutionality of Uganda’s draft “anti-homosexuality bill” and the Ugandan High Court’s January 3 ruling safeguarding all Ugandans’ right to privacy and the preservation of human dignity. His tragic death underscores how critical it is that both the government and the people of Uganda, along with the international community, speak out against the discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of Uganda’s LGBT community, and work together to ensure that all individuals are accorded the same rights and dignity to which each and every person is entitled.

Everywhere I travel on behalf of our country, I make it a point to meet with young people and activists — people like David — who are trying to build a better, stronger future for their societies. I let them know that America stands with them, and that their ideas and commitment are indispensible to achieving the progress we all seek.

This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us — and the sacrifices they make. And as we reflect on his life, it is also an occasion to reaffirm that human rights apply to everyone, no exceptions, and that the human rights of LGBT individuals cannot be separated from the human rights of all persons.

Our ambassadors and diplomats around the world will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights policy, and to stand with those who, with their courage, make the world a more just place where every person can live up to his or her God-given potential. We honor David’s legacy by continuing the important work to which he devoted his life.

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Good As You

—  admin